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What You Need to Know About Office Lighting

Good lighting is essential in the workplace. When there isn’t enough light, productivity goes down, employee morale drops, and complaints about problems like eye strain and headaches become much more common. In some cases, bad workplace lighting can even prevent companies from attracting new talent.

If you often have to squint to read at work, get a headache after spending time working at a computer, or have a lot of issues with glare, it might be time to reconsider the lighting in your office. But to make sure your office is well lit, it’s important to remember that there isn’t just one main type of lighting. There are actually a few different types of lighting and understanding the difference between these different types helps make it easier to plan the lighting for your office.

Natural Lighting

Natural light is one of the most valuable things an office can have. People innately crave natural light and many companies are eager to redesign their offices to improve access to it. Natural light offers many benefits, such as helping reduce eye strain and helping people be more alert and productive, as well as helping people be happier at work in general. Best of all, natural light has the added benefit of reducing the amount of money you need to spend on artificial lighting.

overhead fluorescent ceiling lighting at the GFL offices

Ambient (General) Lighting

General lighting is the most common type you will find in office spaces, which is typically the 2×4 fixtures peppered throughout the traditional lay in ceiling. These fixtures create the soft glow that blankets the space and, in most office environments, is not necessarily a design feature, though it can be if you have the right budget! Don’t get us wrong, the standard LED direct-indirect basket fixtures of today have significantly improved from the days of paracube and parabolic fixtures that create significant glare and harsh lighting. No matter the fixture you select, there is always a technical component to make sure you have adequate illumination, measured in footcandles.

When choosing your general lighting, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing lighting that is consistent in intensity and color temperature. For example, some types of light bulbs might emit light with a bluish cast to it while other light bulbs might give off a yellow or orange-twinged light. Mixing general lights with different color temperatures or brightness levels can create less-than-ideal lighting and interfere with the general atmosphere of a space.

colorful accent lighting above a collaborative work lounge

Accent Lighting

This is where a space can have some fun! Not all company construction budgets can allow for high-design lighting through the space, but most have an allowance to provide some pops at certain areas. We typically see accent lighting at reception, collaboration, and cafe areas, as well as in conference rooms. These fixtures can incorporate the company’s brand colors or are highlight a collaborative area within a larger zone. There are endless possibilities for accent lights, within all price points. It’s important to consider the color temperature, as noted above, since these fixtures want to compliment the general lighting within the space.

office space with windows that let in a lot of light and shades that can be adjusted throughout the day

Image Credit: Lutron

Lighting Controls & Customization

Not all spaces call for bright lights at all times. In less formal areas of the office, soft ambient lighting is perfect for creating a calming vibe. Dimmer switches are a great option to include in your general lighting design. This allows you to control the brightness of a room’s lighting, which can vary throughout the work day. It’s also important to consider occupancy sensors, which turn lights on and off automatically depending on the activity in the area, as well as daylight sensors, which will automatically dim or turn off lighting based on the natural daylight entering the room. There are so many devices that can save money while helping make employees more comfortable.

green task light on an office desk

Image Credit: Steelcase

Task Lighting

Sometimes, people might need extra light right at their desks to fully focus on a task. That’s where task lighting comes in. Task lighting refers to smaller lamps that can be plugged in and placed on any desk or workstation to provide extra light when there isn’t enough natural or general light or to help make it easier to work on more detail-oriented tasks.

Corrective Lighting

Computers have helped make our lives much easier in many different ways, but spending too much time looking at a computer screen can lead to eye fatigue or strain. In many cases, this happens because computer monitors are significantly brighter than the area behind it. Corrective lighting is a type of lighting which gets placed behind computer monitors to help correct this problem so that people are able to work more comfortably.


Making sure an office is well lit can be confusing and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, you’re not alone. Contact Premier Construction & Design and leave the planning to us. We fully understand how important good lighting is to an office and we can work to find a solution that meets your needs. Take a look at our portfolio and case studies to see some examples of our work.